It has been 28 years since "God Save the Queen" was played for an individual world champion. The anthem rang out in the Palau Sant Jordi for James Gibson last night after he won gold in the men's 50 metres breaststroke. David Wilkie was Britain's last world champion in 1975.
Starting the race as favourite, Gibson was pressed by the world record-holder, Oleg Lisogor, before powering into a lead he would never relinquish. The 23-year-old, based at the elite training centre and University of Loughborough, was disqualified in this event two years ago but more than made up for his inexperience here.
"From the gun I swam a good race," he said. "I had a good start, and in my mind I had decided they were going to have to come out and get me. But I was determined they wouldn't. I've been working for four years for this and now I am going to focus on the 100 metres for Athens.''
Gibson then proceeded to thank everyone who had been part of his success, as if he had just won an Oscar, before adding: "I was the most chilled out there. I was relaxed and happy and I am proud to be British.''
The 50m breaststroke is not an Olympic event and Gibson knows this result will count for nothing in the minds of his rivals in Athens next year. But the psychological boost it will bring to Gibson's confidence after his bronze medal in the 100m will be inestimable.
Stephen Parry narrowly missed winning Britain's fourth medal after finishing fourth in the final of the 200 metres butterfly. The race was won, as expected, by American teenager Michael Phelps. His time of 1:54.35 was nearly half a second outside the world record he set in the semi-finals but more than a second clear of the rest.
Parry's time of 1:56.10 was only 0.2sec shy of his own Commonwealth record and shows a consistency on which the 26-year-old can build to Athens 2004. "It feels like I've lost a tenner and found a fiver,'' he said. "It's great to swim these sort of times but fourth is the worst position to finish."
Ian Thorpe set the second fastest relay split in history to anchor the Australian 4x200m freestyle relay to gold. But they were made to work for their win after Phelps gave the Americans the lead with an opening leg that would have won him the bronze medal in the individual 200m race. Coming so soon after winning gold in the 200m butterfly gives an idea of just why the Americans are making such a fuss of their latest talent. But despite a healthy lead at the half-way point the Aussies fought back and it was a third gold medal for Thorpe.
Scotland's Ian Edmond set a Commonwealth record in a semi-final of the 200m breaststroke continuing a rich tradition of British breaststroking. Edmond was on world record pace with 50 to go, stopping the clock in 2:10.69, a time that ranks him second into today's final. It is the sixth fastest of all time.
In front of him is Japan's Kosuke Kitajima, the 100m world record-holder who set about another world record last night. Nearly a second under target at the 100m, Kitajima lost control of the stroke only in the final 15 metres to miss the record by just 0.13 sec. Expect it to fall as he has his third attempt at it today.
The highlight, though, will be the men's 100m freestyle. The Dutchman Pieter van den Hoogenband will be racing for his first world title but is facing an all-star field. Ian Thorpe is getting faster as the week goes on and Russian legend Alex Popov is swimming as well as ever, and these three should divide up the medals. The American sprinter Jason Lezak will set the early pace but expect the big three to contest the finish.Reuse content